It used to be that you couldn’t map an idea, that you couldn’t plot its trajectory. It used to be that you couldn’t identify the connectors and the mavens. It was an obscure talent that it took to spot trends. It took skill. Now, it takes a search bar.
There is nothing so easy as finding the topic of the moment. They are all around us. They are the Justin Biebers and the iPads. They are the subtle references that become the stock and trade of entire industries. And you can see it happen. Even if we can’t see it coming, we can sure see how it went.
But it isn’t enough just to be able to spot trends. The points on a line aren’t all that interesting unless you are placing them. The upward slope isn’t special unless you are the one making it happen. And wildfires spread with abandon, but someone is always behind them. There is always an arsonist that reveals the secret weeks or months afterwards. It it always a shock as to how it happened, but nonetheless, the fire did start.
The problem is that I can’t tell someone else to start a fire. I have to instigate and agitate. I have to suggest it to others and see what happens. As it turns out, I never have the right kindling or materials for sustained flames. I can fan them just fine, but it always takes someone else to strike the match and tend the embers.
And after our first fire, none of us are the same. We all have lost eyebrows and we all glowing from staring at what we have done for so long. The stories we tell are the ones of pushing the fire into the right places, creating back burns to drive the flame deeper into the areas that need a cleansing fire.
And the fires start with an @ symbol now. I fan the flames with an RT.
We set up meetups to ensure we all have the best techniques getting it to burn brighter and longer.
We bookmark our good ideas and start putting together arsonist kits for others.
We take pictures and document just how we are getting such a great burn rate.
And we sit back and watch as everything that we have worked for is enveloped in flames.
We watch, knowing that it is all because of us that we see the dancing orange and flickering blues.
We cheer it on as others start setting fires of their own.
(As you may have guessed, this post is purely metaphorical. I am not actually advocating arson or any form of eco-terrorism.)